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How To Help Employees Affected By The War In Ukraine

How to deal with intense emotions in the team during the current crisis situations? How HR department and team leaders can help? How can leaders take care of both their team members' and their own mental health? Here's what Soulmio psychologists Martina Mikeskova and psychotherapist Jiri Dohnal suggest.

According to psychotherapist and consultant Jiri Dohnal, people in companies seek support in uncertainty from the pack leader. That's why they turn to management or HR departments much more often. It may seem that they come with every little thing, but they are more interested in support, in the reassurance that they are still counted on, that they are important to us.

Crisis Behaviour In The Team

Dohnal warns that the team's performance may be reduced at this time. There are two types of people. Most will reduce performance because they watch too much negative news, experience intense emotions, lose confidence in a range of activities, and cannot concentrate. A smaller number of people try to work to escape from their feelings, so they work even harder. It is a good idea for these types of people to provide a workplace in the office so that they do not isolate themselves at home with their negative feelings and deepen their depressive states. According to Dohnal, employees who perform complex tasks or value-added activities (designers, programmers, architects, etc.) due to lower concentration may make mistakes, choose shortcut solutions or simply reduce their work performance. One correct response is to reassign people to simpler tasks temporarily.

Even Strongest Emotions Will End And Pass Away

We experience the mind's natural reactions to a situation we have yet to navigate. But as psychologist Martina Mikeskova adds, you don't have to panic, it's a time-limited situation: 'It's not a good idea to put pressure on employees now, but to give them time for the shock to subside and for the most difficult emotions to pass. No intense emotion or fear lasts forever. Give your colleagues space to deal with the shock."

Decision-Making Under Pressure

When it comes to decision-making in times of uncertainty, psychologist Dohnal also has specific advice. If you are making a decision under pressure, but the situation is not that acute, listen to the person and then take a break for at least 20 minutes to make a better decision. If you have to make a decision quickly, don't make it sitting down: Stand up, walk around the room. Creating a slight pause helps your brain make a better decision.

Remind Your Team Of Shared Values

When it comes to making decisions in times of uncertainty, psychotherapist Dohnal also has specific advice. If you are making a decision under pressure, but the situation itself is not so acute, listen to the person and then take a break for 20 minutes, an hour or more, and your decision will be better. If you really need to make a decision quickly, don't make it sitting down: Stand up, walk around the room, look out the window. You will at least get some distance, and your decision will be better.

Stabilize Yourself

According to psychologist Mikeskova, the first priority for any manager is to stabilize themselves before they can help others. At the same time, Mikeskova adds that we often help others to reduce our own tension. This setting can blind us in the long run.

Read more: Anxiety and fear of war? How can we manage intense emotions?


Only Help To The Best Of Your Ability

So how do you support your team properly, according to the psychologist? "Support your employees. Let them stay with friends, with family, talk together about what they are experiencing and let them stick to their habits and rituals. I also recommend limiting the flow of negative news. Let's not forget ourselves either. Define your role when you are at work and are the coordinator of help for others and when you have time only for yourself. Always help to the best of your ability and remember that we cannot solve everything for everyone," says Martina Mikeskova.

Tips From Psychologists On How To Manage Anxiety And Fear Of War In A Team

  • There is a need to get the message across in the company and teams that it is okay to use psychological help. That it is normal to feel bad, anxious, and experience panic.
  • To reduce uncertainty in your team, talk openly with people. If you can't tell them what decisions will be made (because they haven't been made yet), inform them about internal processes, what's going on in the company, and how it's being handled. If you can't inform them of the outcome, inform them of the process. Don't promise what you won't deliver.
  • If someone doesn't want to help, don't help them. Respect their wishes. Keep in mind that the individual may very well welcome the help two days later.
  • You are likely to be met with a feeling from colleagues that there is nothing we can do: The least we can always do is help ourselves. Anchor ourselves, calm down, ease emotions and tensions. Feeling powerless is not rational.
  • Sensing the body is essential because we always have the body at hand. Incorporate regular walks, sports, stretching, trips to nature into your day.
  • Agree within the team that you will share feelings and insights on what is happening in the team (not on the political situation). Do not hesitate to invite an expert to help you understand the actions of individuals.

Our tip: Mental Health Program For Your Employees

  • Respect that under stress, creativity decreases, and error rates increase.
  • Accept that we are still in the shock phase. It will ease. Don't complicate things by having to go full speed for a few days.
  • If someone is in emotional shock and has an important meeting coming up, ask them an hour before the meeting: What's new? How are you feeling? Are you ready for the meeting? It will fire the strongest emotions at you and thus wash them away. Help him realize that he can handle the meeting or a similar work situation.
  • Manage mutual expectations: let each team member know what is expected of them. And at the same time, let you know what the team expects of you. 


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